If there’s a strange emphasis of Christmas Eve over Christmas Day in seasonal films as if the Big Reveal is on the stroke of midnight with Santa’s due-arrival, then New Year’s Day is little different. New Year’s Eve is when things happen, when people go searching and find themselves en route to love whether the End of the World is nigh (Last Night) or not (In Search of a Midnight Kiss, New Year’s Eve) If we see the new year in on film, it’s the fireworks we’ve waited for (Strange Days) even while we tend to do exactly the same beyond the cinema and back in the real world.
Season, what season?
Yet New Year’s Day might be gone in a blink though we mumble our greetings further into January until we don’t know where and the words fall flat. Yet Christmastime continues until a very definite January 6th when the decorations come down, but between Boxing Day and the Festival of Epiphany, we barely acknowledge the season at all.
Films that take account of Christmas continuing often happen to deal with adult perspectives on relationships. Of course, any movie version of A Christmas Carol lets us know that Scrooge has turned a corner and will never be the same again. Likewise, George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life has had his eyes open to the true value of his life that he had previously not recognised in spite of his goodness. And independent films such as Frozen River, Happy, Happy, and Tuesday, After Christmas might feature brokenness, hurt, and confusion, but that they all take place over this spiritual/commercial festival brings extra meaning.
For Christmas continues, and as an audience, we expect something to happen on screen because of it. Things come to a head, yet move on. Life continues. Something has shifted. The magic of the season has infected the players.
Whatever we, ourselves believe Christmas to be, our cultural understanding, at least at the cinema is that this time of the year has meaning.